Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Lack of power or effectiveness; weakness.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Impotence, weakness.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Lack of power; inability.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Powerlessness; impotence; feebleness.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. powerlessness revealed by an inability to act

Etymologies

Middle English impuissaunce, from Old French impuissance : in-, not; see in-1 + puissance, power; see puissance.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French impuissance. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • While less deference may be due now that the formal authority's impuissance has been exposed, this is not the time to mock, point fingers, or rest on our laurels.

    Karthika Sasikumar: The Fractures That Breed Danger

  • Following a tinny peace agreement this week, allegations have arisen that there may have even been a $6 million bribe to encourage Taliban leaders 'cooperation, revealing the extent of the government's impuissance and desperation.

    Stuart Whatley: Pakistan's Presidential Putz

  • Most analysts of international relations agree that it was a period during which the traditional alliance between Washington and Brussels was languished; mainly due to Bush administration's impuissance to search for broader consensus regarding the Iraq War.

    Obama's chance to renew US-Europe relations

  • Il y a une certaine impuissance de ces mots pour guérir les maux de coeur.

    epilogue

  • She thought she was sick; she had never felt such impuissance.

    In Other Worlds

  • I knew, impotent as I was, that I _could_ play it -- I could feel the sense of power tingling through my own impuissance.

    The Making Of A Novelist An Experiment In Autobiography

  • -- Si donc les noirs sont bornés ici à un petit commerce de détail, n'en accusons pas leur impuissance, mais le préjugé des blancs, qui leur donnent des entraves.

    The Journal of Negro History, Volume 1, January 1916

  • Think but lightly of such impuissance? what stops my despair?

    From ‘Saul’

  • Then came the Son of God in time when man was vanquished of ignorance and impuissance.

    The Golden Legend, vol. 1

  • After, came the law of God, which hath given commandment in which he hath been overcome of impuissance, as first he hath cried: There is none that fulfilleth but that commandeth.

    The Golden Legend, vol. 1

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